Rick Barry, who had already been growing most of his own food for 25 years, made his foray into farming as a profession in 2010.
“[Farming] was something I was going to do when I retired, and when I involuntarily retired, I decided to start now,” Barry said.
To better help their customers use the more than 50 varieties of vegetables and herbs grown on the two and a half acres of their farm, Random Hills Farm in Weare, Barry’s wife Janet put together the Random Hills Cookbook, a collection of recipes that use some of the farm’s unique offerings as ingredients. Kohlrabi, a German turnip, is one fairly uncommon ingredient grown at the Barrys’ Certified Naturally Grown farm.
Janet Barry had already been handing out recipes at farmers markets when her aunt, Carol Moore, suggested she create her own cookbook with them. Moore, who has her art displayed at Ta Da Gallery in New Smyra Beach, Fla., did the artwork for the book.
“I sent her some photos of our fields and the markets and she sent back the proofs; they were completely beautiful,” Janet Barry said.
Janet Barry put together each of the 34 recipes and taste-tested all of them herself, except for the stuffed hot peppers.
“The people who tried [the peppers], once they got done fanning their mouths, said it was a great recipe,” Janet Barry said of the spicy cheese-stuffed peppers. Complimentary cookbooks were given to all members of the farm’s patron program, which is similar to a community-supported agriculture program (CSA) but allows customers to come to farmers markets and select what they want from the Random Hills Farm stand.
Janet Barry said she did her best to include recipes for quick and easy dishes in her spiral-bound book.
“Sometimes you come home to all of these fresh vegetables and want dinner right away,” she said. “And some recipes [in the book] are very challenging for days when you actually have time to play around in the kitchen.”
As Janet Barry is a vegetarian, so are all of the recipes in her book. She said one of her favorite creations is the tomato goat cheese torte, which she noted is not too hard to make if you do not mind rolling out the dough. The book also includes a recipe for raw kale salad.
“Kale is not necessarily unique, but a lot of people are not sure what to do with it,” Janet Barry said.
Included in some recipes are hints as to how to preserve squash and tomatoes, as many people collect large quantities of them during their peak seasons. Janet Barry noted that both can be easily frozen individually or after being stewed down together with peppers, onions and other vegetables.
“You can freeze them all winter long so they can be used for sauces, soups and in many other different dishes,” Janet Barry said.
While she does not yet have set plans to put together a second cookbook, Janet Barry has not ruled out the idea of creating one for after the harvest that focuses on recipes that use frozen and pickled produce.
“I don’t think I would get into canning because it’s only good if it’s done properly,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to put out a recipe for that and worry about people not doing it right.”